Taken from Catholic Exchange by Dr. Mark Giszczak
June 7, 2015
First Reading: Exodus 24:3-8
Nobody likes a hypocrite, a person who says one thing and does another. But often I wonder if our disgust at hypocrisy reflects something about ourselves. Maybe we can’t stand hypocrites because they remind us about what we can’t stand about our very selves. We make commitments we can’t keep, resolutions to exercise that go unfulfilled, promises to ourselves about waking up earlier, getting more organized, checking things off the to-do list. So many of our promises to ourselves end up deferred and eventually, forgotten. One of the ways that we combat the hypocrite within is by making firm, loud, public commitments that will help us to shy away from the cliff of duplicity when we are tempted to slip. In this Sunday’s first reading, the ancient Israelites face a similar moment of commitment.
Making a Pact
The Exodus generation witnessed God’s saving work at the Red Sea and received the law at Mt. Sinai. Yet they were terrified of God, so Moses acts as their representative on the mountain. At this point, Exodus 24, the people have already obtained the Ten Commandments and many other laws. In order to validate their formal reception of God’s law and covenant, they have a unique sacred ceremony, part of which is described in this reading. Our reading begins and ends with an expression of commitment on the part of the Israelites. They promise: “All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do” (Exod 24:3 RSV). After the ceremony, they re-affirm their promise.
Oath of Obedience
Through this oath of obedience the Israelites take a firm and public stand against hypocrisy. They recognize what God has done for them and they want to reciprocate, to give back in the only way they can: obedience. They cannot save themselves from the Egyptians or conquer the promised land or write their own law—they receive these things as gifts from God, who is able to do them. When God gives us gifts, we have trouble giving back, not because we don’t want to, but because God doesn’t need anything we have to offer. Yet we can offer our very selves, which is what he is really after. The Israelites promise obedience to his law, to the covenant that he makes with them.
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